“I eat once a day, I fast 2 to 3 times a week and take several slimming-detox drinks and green teas. I have been on an exercise programme for a year now unfortunately, I have not lost any weight!”
These are the words a lady told me during her visit to the private nutrition and body wellness healthcare facility where I work.
And many more people out there can relate. On a typical working day, we receive many of these laments. People have tried several things and would do whatever it took to put their health in order.
What is diet and nutrition?
Diet is the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism. The word diet often implies the use of specific intake of nutrition for health and dieting, it is the practice of eating food in a regulated way to maintain, decrease or increase some one’s health status.
In other words, dieting has to be intentional to achieve well-coordinated, reliable and consistent results.
With time, one looks at different programmes and opts for a diet that turns into a lifestyle.
Dieting, done correctly, can be beneficial to health. Net photos
Nutrition is defined as the science that interprets the nutrients and other substances in food in relation to maintenance, growth, reproduction, health and disease of an organism. It includes ingestion, absorption, assimilation, biosynthesis, catabolism and excretion
Our bodies were created the same way, but function differently, so it is better to understand your body well before dieting.
Under the factors that influence food choices, we have; social factors including culture, family, peers and meal patterns. Also, in the same line, attitude, beliefs, and knowledge about food and many other factors influence people’s choices.
In Rwanda, like any other country in the world, you find diets characterised by one type of food group, for example, maize flour (posho), rice on a single plate at the same time, consuming single meals and in large quantities without considering quality and diversity.
I think time has come for people to align food with its importance, understanding particular dietary requirement at a certain period depending of growth, and not eating what you eat because it’s what is available. Our soils are endowed and good for organic farming.
How to diet
Dieting is about understanding your requirements; a few suggestions are:
Eat a variety of foods, even in very small amounts.
Proper nutrition is about diversity and moderation. As earlier mentioned, it’s an idea to evaluate your nutrition status first and then resort to a dedicated plan that is in line with your goals. A balanced meal as we all know includes protein acting as building materials to our body if it was a house, whole grain for fuel if we were cars, healthy fats act as those rubes that our vehicles use and for the body, they support growth, not forgetting colourful fruits, nuts and seeds.
Breastfeed exclusively up to six months. Healthy dieting covers different growth stages and for children, there is a great link between childhood nutrition and adult nutrition. Breast milk has enough nutrients to take a baby up to six months before introducing complementary feeding.
Eat breakfast every day. Even if you don’t feel hungry for breakfast at first, getting yourself in the habit of eating breakfast means training your body to eventually wake up hungry. Eating breakfast actually jump-starts your metabolism for the day. If you’re in a fasting mode, your metabolism decreases to conserve energy.
Eat less salt and sugars. In some instances, many end up ‘cheating’ because of sugar, salt and oil that have to be watched. Modern food processing has reached a level of communicating with our neurotransmitters where certain foods have become addictive, so maintain healthy portions.
Balance the food you eat with physical activity. Now here you don’t have to be an athlete; simple moderate physical wellness helps in regulating your caloric expenditure, and reduces chances of depositing extra energy in the walls of the stomach as fats.
Flexibility exercises and aerobics are recommended for this factor.
Limit carbs. You have had of the glycaemic index (GI), the fuel food presents to our bodies. Different food offers different glycaemic load and in case one consumes foods with low load, less fats are dumped, which increases chances of staying healthy.
How not to diet
Dieting has been abused with disciplines that are centered on desperation and habits that instead hurt our bodies. These include inaccurate material and recommendations from all over the internet, self-medication, starving the body, slimming and detox teas and juices, too much exercise, and many other harmful ways people try to achieve health goals.
Fasting, only deprives the body of important nutrients.
Sliming teas and the so-called detox diets with unsubstantiated claims, leave their host’s body with stomach pains an indication that the stomach lining may have been damaged.
Excessive exercise only wears out our muscles and eventually damages connective tissues and tendons.
Everyone can achieve a healthy status if they concentrate on nutrition basics and principles of intentional food selection, combining benefits, balanced diet and diversity.
People need to consider nutrition and health counselling before making any decisions.
The author is a nutrition and body wellness expert.